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During the next two weeks, riders from the Euro Cross Academy will be writing exclusive blogs for VeloNews as they race in Europe.
ECA Journal #1
24 October 2022
Rider: Ben Stokes
Hometown: Norwalk, CT
The flowing rivers of spectators go silent as the race commissaire calls 30 seconds to go. Obnoxiously loud Euro-techno music, coming to a climax, captures the tense feeling within the group of poised riders. But they aren’t listening to it. Each one is ready to begin their first World Cup of the season.
From the right side of the start straight, the sharp sound of a whistle is heard. Chaos erupts as the right half of the field launches with all of their might, jockeying for positions and using every muscle in their body to accelerate as fast as they possibly can.
Only that whistle does not signify the start of the race. The racers, now halfway down the straightaway, begin to look around at each other as it occurs to them that much of the field is still standing in their staging positions, waiting for the start lights to turn green. It becomes clear what has just occurred.
As a cyclocross racer of seven years, this is the first false start I have ever been a part of. From outside a racer’s perspective, it seems impossible to confuse the red lights turning green with any other signal. However, from within the lines of the start grid, I surprise even myself by how easily I simply choose to follow the wheel in front of me, my mind void of any thoughts except for putting out as much power as possible and the butterflies I feel at every start line I roll up to.
Despite their misguided efforts, one has to admire the ferocity and confidence with which the first racers left the line, fully committed to being the first one to the holeshot.
It is not uncommon in life to face a situation similar to this one, where one has to choose one way or another. This can certainly be applied to larger decisions in life, such as how one approaches one’s education or choosing to dedicate time to the mastery of a skill. But this idea of choosing a path and charging towards it with everything one has can be applied to even the most minute decision in day-to-day life.
Do you take the extra time while doing your schoolwork to fully interpret the topic or do you choose to spend that time scrolling social media?
For me, inspiration comes from our crazy start in the Tabor Men’s Junior World Cup. Follow the example of those committed riders, and fully devote myself to pursuing the next decision I make, no matter how big or small.